Big problem with royal christening plans

Because if there is one particular word that keeps popping with curious frequency in stories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of late it is “normal”’ as in their furious, fervent quest to give their newborn son, Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor a “normal” childhood.

Prince Harry and Meghan’s latest salvo in Operation: Normal is his christening, set for this weekend. It will be a wholly private affair, held at Windsor Castle’s private chapel. The media will not be allowed access in any capacity and the only tantalising glimpse we will get will be via the @SussexRoyal Instagram account.

Yesterday, we learnt their quest for privacy at the event will go even further than previously thought: They will not be announcing which lucky friends will be named as the wee tots godparents.

The Duke and Duchess’s vision for little Archie’s childhood is a fantasy. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/AFPSource:AFP

Harry and Meghan have so far tried to keep Master Archie’s life private, sharing only glimpses of him via Instagram. Picture: Instagram/@SussexRoyal/AFP

Harry and Meghan have so far tried to keep Master Archie’s life private, sharing only glimpses of him via Instagram. Picture: Instagram/@SussexRoyal/AFPSource:AFP

But the quest for this elusive state of normal is entirely futile. For starters, according to the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, anyone willing to pony up $53 can access baptism records in any British parish. Chances are, journalist clutching fistfuls of pounds will be standing outside the local parish office door from dawn on Monday. The identity of these mystery godparents will surely be known in no time at all.

More broadly, Harry and Meghan’s attempts at creating some semblance of normalcy for Archie seem misguided if not downright naive and the steps they have taken since his birth seem totally blinkered to the reality of their lives.

For example, rejecting a title for their son.

To save Archie from a lifetime of power plant openings and scout hall unveilings that are part and parcel of official royal life, the Sussexes decided that the boy should only ever be known as Master, despite the fact he would have been entitled to be known as the Earl of Dumbarton.

Similarly, they eschewed the option to style him as an HRH (the official delineation between working royal and non-working royal).

Yet, Archie will one day be a Prince, technically at least. When Charles becomes King, according to the act of succession, Archie will automatically become an HRH. (Though chances are, won’t use it.)

Then there is his Windsor childhood. Driving Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave Kensington Palace for Windsor was said to be the desire to let their kid/s enjoy a more typical upbringing.

A personalised baseball jersey hand-delivered by the New York Yankees, like any other normal kid. Picture: Chris Jackson/Invictus Games Foundation via Getty Images

A personalised baseball jersey hand-delivered by the New York Yankees, like any other normal kid. Picture: Chris Jackson/Invictus Games Foundation via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

On paper this might sound reasonable, but remember the fact that Harry and Meghan “only” have a housekeeper and two assistants (they have no chef, according to Vanity Fair — can you even imagine the sheer challenge of having to work the toaster yourself?), and the fact that their son will still grow up a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.

As royal biographer Katie Nicholl writes in Vanity Fair, Archie’s childhood will involve “swimming at the indoor pool at Windsor Castle and learning to ride on the Queen’s horses. Harry is said to be keen to enrol him in one of the prestigious local polo clubs. There is a nearby farm park, and tea at Windsor Castle on Sunday afternoon with the Queen will likely become a weekly ritual, as it did for Harry when he was a boy.”

Scones with a monarch? Learning to play the sport of Kings? None of that smacks of normal.

The depressing reality is that no matter how much Harry and Meghan crave to give their son the chance to grow up, make mistakes, fall in love, and work out who he is without the world’s media obsessively photographing his every move, that is an impossible aim. By dint of his birth and his surname, Archie will always be distinctly not what you or I would consider normal. He will never have to worry about paying his gas bill, if he’s forgotten bin night or belong to a pub trivia team called Let’s Get Quizzical.

The kid will always be internationally famous. He will always be sensationally rich. And his grandfather, uncle and first cousin will all be kings.

Harry and Meghan are far from the first royal parents to, perhaps naively, think they can offer their offspring some semblance of ordinariness.

Keep smiling, everything is normal. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Keep smiling, everything is normal. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton (whose Diana: Her True Story is still in print 27 years after it’s bombshell release) tells “Normal is a word (lots of members of the royal family) have all used. When the Queen was Princess Elizabeth she talked about enjoying a normal life in Malta. Princess Diana talked about having a ‘normal’ life for William and Harry. So normal, it’s a different kind of normal to what you and I would think (is normal).”

Morton also points out that Archie’s parents’ “own background isn’t normal”.

“Harry went to a private school, then he went to Eton then he joined Sandhurst. Pretty normal for the scion of a royal military family which is what the Windsors are. Meghan went to a very expensive school, Little Red House in LA, she went to Immaculate Heart which is a private Catholic school then she went to a private university Northwestern. Will (their) child being going to a state school? I most doubt it,” he said.

So, enjoy your christening Archie. Enjoy all the cuddles with the Queen and sneaky attempts to try on her favourite crown and opportunities to best cousin George on the polo field, because it all comes at a high price — true normality.

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